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June 15, 2022 12:00 am
Next time you step through the doors of your local church, throw your prejudices and stereotypes and self-righteousness outside. When you leave, don't pick them back up.
Regeneration problems exist and can you imagine staying in our culture you go back in American history just 56 where a white man wouldn't drink from the same water fountain is a black dating the same restaurant and they certainly for goodness sake didn't go to the same church I have often wondered in my mind where were the pastors where were the expositors just 50 years ago where James chapter 2 was right here. The Bible is clear there is no place for racial or cultural prejudice. One passage that makes this clear is James to the could be summarized like this.
Christians, when you go to church on Sunday. Leave your prejudices and biases, and cultural stereotypes and clicks at the door and when you leave. Make sure you don't pick them back up again today Stephen begins a short series from James to call the law of love is called this first lesson. Don't be a snob between the hours of 9 AM and 1 PM. Thousands of television commercials are developed and targeted especially for toddlers and preschool children back in recent years, television, video, DVD, programming of actually been developed for babies in the years getting younger and younger fact I learned recently. There is now a cable channel dedicated for infants. I assume I guess there there watching this. The evidence is fully substantiated by the age of two child. They have discovered they being the researchers can identify brand names and not only identify things by their brand name, desire them over and above those things without a brand name so you have a problem with a 13-year-old or 14-year-old all the way back to the age of two.
In fact, by the age of three. The child will be capable of pressuring his parents to purchase items based solely on peer popularity rather than the need or even the inherent value in the item to little children are now telling their parents and advertisers are catching on advertisers they they caught on for some time that they're telling the parents which automobile to purchase and drive were glad to eat where to go to school but to put in their lunchbox when they go and what to wear as they head off to school. There is an education taking place that overpowers their education. Little wonder that more than one billion dollars is spent annually on advertising targeting preschoolers and down from automobiles to entertainment to clothing to food VCR culture has identified a particular defect in our human nature and has defined marketing strategy to manipulate it. It is the desire to not only fit in but be viewed as superior to those around us. In short, status is golden.
What you have. Matters more than who you are and two-year-olds are picking up on this defective course continues to play out as children get older and in turn of the young adults and in older adults goes by any number of names you can call it classism. Classism is what level of society you belong to, or racism. What nationality you came from cultural is what it is a bad view that causes you to fit in or not to fit in and it is the Christian who approaches these issues with an utterly different approach and perspective. Why because we understand that God never intended the Bible to adapt to contemporary society. In fact, we would expect culture to view this book as anything but relevant.
God never intended the Bible to adapt to contemporary culture intended the Bible to create an entirely different culture, a new culture made up of many ethnic groups, but one culture one rights one holy priesthood.
First Peter 294 James redefines in rather stunning words were pure and undefiled religion is how many we asked the average person honestly what you think you really should anyone show our religion and rental awful kind of things no administrating the needs of orphans and widows and others genuine Christianity loves and cares for people who cannot earn your compassion they had absolutely nothing to offer you they can enhance your reputation.
They don't add anything your resume or your portfolio, your love and care for them is sheer grace. Now James goes on in his letter. In chapter 2 to the scattered Jewish Christians to deliver another rather mind blowing culture, shifting culture, creating statement statement in verse one. He writes my brother and do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. You can render that partiality or prejudice. In other words, social cliques and Jesus Christ do not ask for the Romans in chapter 2 verse 11.
Think God is no respecter of person, no respecter there's no favoritism. Jesus Christ, you see, my friends was anything but a snob walked around with his nose in the air, even though mind you he is the son of God. If anybody had the right to look down on anybody would be him yet. He was kind to the Samaritan woman at the well. As he was the Nicodemus. He was as gracious to the woman with the issue brother came in touch the hem of his garment as he was. The gyrus was standing there patiently waiting for him to go home with him to heal his daughter. He was as available to blind Barta masses. He was the rich young ruler, he gave the outcasts and untouchables as much an offer of salvation as he gave to the scribes and Pharisees's overriding concern was the condition of their soul which had all value she James is writing here to Christians and effectively says do the same thing think the same way partiality and Christianity are incompatible. That was interesting if we dig a little deeper which will do to discover that the original word translated personal favoritism years may be rendered partiality.
Verse one is a compound word and in it never, ever, not once appears or occurs outside of the new test is of God, the Spirit created a word that he expected this culture to live out, never expecting the world to live it out and if you take the words that are squeezed together and you expand them out a wooden translation would literally make don't hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with the receiving of someone's face came to refer early in the etymology within the Christian church to somebody that was accepted based on their faith that was literally how how attractive they were is interesting because even in the coming of Jesus Christ who could choose how he would look chose to be unattractive rather ordinary looking Jewish man, so much so that if you walked into the room as a said we would be attracted to. We would listing them we wouldn't think he was anything special. The word developed into the idea of giving someone attention and favor based on their status, their education, the race, or wealth, the rank regardless of the merits of their character. I love the way the amplified Bible cuts right to the core of what James is saying in our language so we understand and it's, it's offensive. It's confrontive but that's why we've come here today.
The amplified Bible expanded this way. Stop holding the faith of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with snobbery. Don't be a snob and the reason he has to say that is because their snobs you're a snob and not a snob. I'm glad you came as I can tell you you're a snob so mind we we we we tend to we drift in in that direction to this is one of those culture shifting culture, creating declarations, something is going to radically change. For the believer who wants to grow up and stop being a snob.
My file for some time, highlighting the writings of Hesiod the poet lived about 750 years before the birth of Christ.
He was just revered. He and Homer along those two guys were just revered whatever they said was it gospel truth. He wrote and I quote love those who love you, help those who help you give to those who give to you, never to those who do not.
I like that religion I can do that.
I want to try but I believe I can relate his world works. That's life and you might think will get over it. No doubt Jesus Christ effectively turns that thinking upside down and right side up. When he says effectively that she heard it said, you know, doing to others as as they do on New Year's Eve and quoting Hesiod for 750 but I say to you, do I know others as you would like for them to do to you, even if they don't return the favor, which is price idea seven verse 12 this issue is is real. The 21st century as it was in the first century, when James was writing this letter don't fall back. Don't drift back another to redeem in the classism and racism and cultural is don't bow to status. Don't pant after brand names don't focus on the social register or image or appearance because if you do, you will not be prepared to reform the corresponding attitudes and actions of partiality and prejudice and pigeonholing everybody in the stratified category to those attitudes and those actions in item James would reveal further as exhibit A. This person may be in Christ, but he is not growing up in Christ and I say that he may be in Christ because James is using an imperative in verse one that can literally be translated stop stop at stop thinking that way. Stop holding your faith in Christ with an attitude of partiality said because they were doing to the problem in the church.
The pastor there in Jerusalem and the church was very young but their problem right off the bat Jews did my Gentiles to get up in the morning they break. I think another gentle and Gentiles. Of course, did my jeans and it exists in every generation affect every culture have traveled around the world enough to see in the prejudices between the Mexicans in the Puerto Rican very real in this community between Taiwanese and mainland China between Hispanics and Blacks between whites and black between the Japanese and the Chinese between the Hutus and Tutsi tribes of the East Africa were killing each other and the press has come up with this horrible phrase, a coin called ethnic cleansing. It's killing because of prejudice is what is this is this is receiving someone by their face. This is favoritism based on status and image and race and well the whatever whatever what happens when people from every tongue tried every nation like the in the same communities I get saved they come to faith in Jesus Christ. They come into the assembly of believers and they like everyone before them. They may have been redeemed by Christ, but they still entered the church back in prison we have all come to church, carrying the luggage of our former lives in ways that we think that have to be absolutely reform when there's power in the truth of God's word and the menu was balance as we go through books of the Bible, because why we import into the church. Our former education in the world's perspective on brand names and value judgments.
It ultimately gets transferred onto people who declassified and codified and categorized as Who's Who and who's not courting James our unity and acceptance and love has nothing to do with our face is everything to do with our faith with this kind of favoritism was taking place in the church is random. Jesus Christ is the closet barely come back together. The Holy Spirit barely descended, the churches created 3000 people come to faith in Jesus Christ and have the very first church division and the complaint begins to rise, and what is it over.
It is over the prejudicial preferential treatment in the church toward Hebrew widows over the care given to Grecian widows easy didn't take long for people to unpack their baggage in the church sanctuary. It didn't take long for that for the church to develop first-class seating and coach seating the Jews were in first class and the Gentiles were in college where people sit closer together than they do their spouses. I know I thought again I flew to New Hampshire on coach cannot tell you the last time I said that close to anybody. I was proposing marriage affect all of Southwest unfortunately is coach and the lady next to me and I we alternated sitting up, sitting back so we can somebody actually told me of stealing a life that was at the airport, visited the talking and creating a different seat that'll save 3 inches so I thought. Is that possible Lisa will want to go to dinner, literally thinking about ending that's not a seat that's a saddle speaking of seating arrangements.
James moves from his opening statement in verse one was seating problem in verse two. The scenario he creates for and by the way, the implication most Greek scholars believe was that this had happened for the man class condition is he has comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty cousin stop as I can before the Usher seats them get this picture in your mind the language of James scenario indicates that these men come in while the church services already in progress. The word translated assembly.
The word synagogue from synagogue. James also uses the word actually see it over in chapter 5, which we typically think of as church views of both words indicates even further the James was written early in the history of the Christian church and the canon of Scripture. These two men come into the service light. The service has already started proving this was a Baptist assembly. When I got the first man is wearing a gold ring and you need to understand that someone wearing gold rings would be showing off status and wealth effect based on how many rings they were wearing, so James is presenting a man of rank and power and money is actually using a word that literally means gold finger, the wearing of rings for men and women in both Jew and Gentile cultures was acceptable. However, a man of wealth. We know from history would wear rings on his left hand, and on every finger.
His fingers would be golden, so to speak. This would be an ostentatious display of wealth and if you weren't that wealthy and you want to do so. You want people to think you were wealthy like winning a vector high school reunion. You can actually rent rings from shops in Rome. We could have one on every finger and show to people that I really made it.
The Roman philosopher Seneca wrote of the first century that wealthy men adorned their fingers with ring and gems were arranged on every joint is become a problem in the practical outworking of the church that had to deal with this and they did in fact Clement of Alexandria church leader serving about 100 years after James wrote this letter, he actually urged in the leadership decided here's how will show that we are distinctively urged the believers to where only one ring to keep from any kind of ostentatious display of wealth see their problem and here comes this guy. They had a problem with Blaine all the way back to the first century mean he had James also says in verse two that he was wearing fine clothing to work for fine as long press, giving us the transliterated word lamp is literally wearing shining clothing more than likely he's wearing shining expensive white garments that wealthy Jewish men wore in this culture, any comes a late charge may be on purpose. We don't know this guy is out comes in the church league like the gemstone cowboy and so he shows everybody on everybody like I've arrived and what is the church do look at it and minute first with the with the poor man comes to the church late to maybe because he didn't want to be seen. It says here in the text verse two that he was dressed in dirty clothes. He was a poor man.
The word for poor total cost is a word we views of the homeless man and that he didn't have a lot of money and said he had no money see in the scenario James is creating two polar opposites in every possible way. The problem isn't that once rich and once poor problem is how people responded is another contrast here and it's clothing. James is the poor man's clothing was dirty work to be rendered filthy I can afford a bath, he got his clothing, probably from the nurse Alley or the trash bin and he literally stinks is beyond down and out. Unlike the first, many is no connection is no money is no status. He has no faith. He has nothing to benefit the Christians gathered in that assembly and by the way, he is not coming to church to get money implication. Most scholars believe is that both the rich man and the poor mentor unbelievers and it come to the assembly.
They might not of known what time it started just as many of you don't.
They're coming in because they're curious we've heard about this, we want to know what's going on now watch what happens. Verse three you pay special attention to the one I was wearing the fine clothes and say you sit here in a good place and you say to the foreman you stand over there you sit down here by my footstool, you pay the rich man. Special attention. James is you pay him special attention literally use their doubles understand the word I think would be good to use would be talk you got everybody's watching him one Greek scholar says the verb has the nuance of covetousness, and I thought that was very interesting. The nuance of in others. Everybody's looking at him, and saying in her heart.
Man does he have made what while I was an unbeliever.
I probably should think this, but I'd like a little bit of his life.
To this day. Greek Orthodox Church is in Greece don't have auditory like we do with fusing chairs or some chairs along the walls for those who need to sit down for some benches up front and those are reserved for prominent guests or prominent members affect the early practice was to rent them out. You literally bought your seat came over to Europe, England came then by way of England to America you ever been to an old church shows that Gates little gates every few you have a key. You bought it. You have the right to that cute nobody else can sit there that your pew that your seat I know none of you feel that way but this is the way it was back then you just open that door and you go and you sit at your pew and they cost a little bit differently. As you move toward the front.
The expensive seats were down front unlike today where they would be where the back right down to you guys have the best seats in the house thing amateur. You, the poor people are segregated in a way in the English and American churches so that they couldn't even see the pulpit and pulpwood couldn't see them just tucked away pastors in early American history made news when they offered to free up the pews so that anybody could come you read the biographies as I have of John Wesley and George Whitfield, who created scandalous news in the early 1700s by single cave they can get in because I couldn't afford to buy or rent the pew where you go out of the field and when you preach to them out there and so thousands, tens of thousands would come to hear them preach. One historian spoke of Wesley preaching the gospel to 30,000 coal miners at dawn one day in the fields and their tears of repentance were streaming white trails down there cold darkened face. They couldn't get in the church. They weren't connected. They didn't have money, they weren't considered respectable. They were different.
They don't belong in here. They all said go back through history and you find in every generation. The problems exist and within cultures.
When can you imagine the stain on our own culture. You go back in American history. Just 50 years the white man wouldn't drink from the same water fountain is a black they did need the same restaurant and shop in the same stores didn't swim in the same pool, and they certainly for goodness sake didn't go to the same church I have often wondered in my mind where were the pastors where were the expositors just 50 years ago where James chapter 2 Taylor was right here. It hadn't gone anywhere. Thank you how wonderful it is to have will have in here white people and black people of folks in India will have Mexicans and Portuguese and Chinese and Japanese and Taiwanese. All the same services. Today I want to tell you that made the spirit grow and serve as evidence that cultural norms can be toppled by the gospel of the grace of Jesus Christ across every one of us approaches Christ exactly the same way we come as sinners in need of the saving grace of God. God makes us one in Christ, he commands that we reflect that unity in the way we live.
This is an important topic and an important passage and we want to understand it thoroughly were just about out of time today so organist stop here and will resume this lesson on our next broadcast your listening to wisdom for the hearts. This is the Bible teaching ministry of pastor and author Stephen Davey. You can learn more about our ministry and access all of the resources we have available at our website.
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